Look at ME please: The challenge of self-promotion in a super-sized world.

Look at ME please: The challenge of self-promotion in a super-sized world.

I’m sure most of you heard the news in 2011 that the world’s population has surpassed 7,000,000,000 people. What this means, is that there are a lot of us walking around on planet earth. Not only are we competing for the necessities of life, we’re competing for the opportunity to display our talents to the largest audience.

For us creative folks, it’s about getting attention for our work. You and I know that no matter how much we admire our own genius ( really, who else would have had the wit to put those two unique words next to each other?) we need the validation that comes from positive feedback and the eventual sale of our works. In a world of shrinking resources, we not only have to put our best foot (work) forward, we have to toss aside that old-fashioned notion of not tooting your own horn and hire a marching band complete with a book wearing mascot.

I’ll be completely open with you, after all there’s nothing as intimate as an article posted on a public internet site, that this has been a challenge for me. One of the life lessons my dear mother taught came from a Yoruba proverb, “when your yam is sprouting, you cover it with your hand.” For those wondering why this is necessary, it’s to prevent those lurking, envious so-and-sos’ from standing in the way of your progress. The other thing is that there’re so many mouths and a limited number of yams.

The way things go in this present world is that you really ‘need’ to send out a growth announcement about the yam.

Dear friends and frenemies, it’s my pleasure to announce that my recently planted African yam (aka Dioscorea rotundata) pierced through nutrient-rich loamy soil at 21:00 hours yesterday. In the absence of a locust infestation, yam and planter are doing just fine.”

Then it’s very important to tweet daily about leaf formation, green pesticide use, water conservation methods and any unique characteristics of your yam vine. Moreover, when that sweet piece of earthy goodness makes its entrance, pictures of you eating the boiled or roasted yam with spicy palm oil must grace your Facebook page. Please, do remember to close your mouth as you chew. Even when you delete the pictures, you never know where they’re going to turn up.

As I ponder about different (think covert) ways of marketing my work, I’ve thought of having colourful t-shirts made for my children with the book cover and website address printed on it. That way, I could get their friends to fall in love with the book during recess. These angelic cherubs in turn, would tell their parents about it and the parents would tell a friend and so on and so forth. Yours truly, the mastermind behind this all, would then smile all the way to the piggy bank.

Before you start judging me, please remember that I’m ‘really’ doing this for the children. A trip back to the magical land of Disneyworld which is at the top of their vacation list is not cheap. And since they are all going to be nuclear physicists or neurosurgeons with perfect teeth, neither are braces or a university education. And the way I look at it, it’s never too early to start thinking of a retirement plan. Especially since their dear mama is eyeing a timeshare in the Bahamas. Okay, this is the part where I pinch myself back into reality.

The take-away nugget at the end of my long speech, is that we wielders of the pen or the keyboard, not only have to keep doing what we do; we have to become savvy about marketing our selves. You and your work are the products. This would include public speaking, use of social media, community engagement and platform development. To accept that if we truly believe in our message, we need to stand tall and share it. Even at the risk of it all coming out as that obnoxious sound of the vuvuzela.


46 thoughts on “Look at ME please: The challenge of self-promotion in a super-sized world.” by yejide kilanko (@yejide-kilanko)

  1. Very well said my brother. I struggle with self promotion a lot…


  2. Oops, sorry i think that was supposed to be my sister, not ‘brother’.


    1. She is not your sister either?

      1. Oga Kaycee, why you dey find trouble now? My baritone voice can be confusing :)

  3. Thank you very much for that piece of information.

    1. Thank you for reading the article :)

  4. You have spoken well. And aptly too. Now, rephrasing a catch from one popular TV ad; if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?

    1. Thanks Tosyn :)

  5. Tell it!
    This is the best I’ve read from you. Your improvement is astounding.
    Indeed its high time we let our egos reign jare.
    One doesn’t have to be good to be a success. Packaging and hype is what’s in vogue.
    Like me, I know nothing, but you should see my fans.

    1. Thanks for the compliment kaycee. My goal is to keep improving. As per you not knowing nothing, I think you may be selling your self short. After all, there’s something attracting the fans :)

  6. Well wrote.

    I feel you.

    The part about ‘covering your sprouting yam’ simply means you protect yourselves from those in your immediate vicinity. Your enemies cannot harm you, watch your friends. You understand?

    Tell the rest of the world. Let those around you find out themselves. At least, that’s what I think.

    Again…well done.

    1. I get you :) Thanks!

    2. @yejide-kilano, @Seun-Odukoya, you said it exactly the way I’ve seen it to be…let the people around you find out for themselves. Thanks for a great piece.

  7. HahaHAHAhahahhaHAhHaHaHAhA!!!!! Aunty Kilanko! As I was reading, I was laughing so hard at the yam analogy, people around were asking ‘ahn ahn, Gboyega r u alright?’!! LOVELY! Nice piece. And very relevant too for these days of high-intensity competition…

    1. Thanks Gboyega. The article was fun to write and I’m glad it made you laugh. It made me laugh too :)

  8. Very well written Aunty Yejide. And best wishes with the book.

    Well done!!!

    1. Thanks for the well wishes. I really appreciate them :)

  9. I was sniggering quietly at the yam analogy then my drink almost came out my nose at the notion of children’s t-shirts and kindergarten playgrounds. Nice piece!

    I don’t doubt that I have spread the cheer of vuvuzela far and wide. May all who hate the sound forgive me. :)

  10. Myne, abeg make you take am easy o. I no fit answer oga question o. Thanks for this and more. And to your prayer, I say a resounding amen! Now, go and sin some more :)

  11. Nice piece,really enjoyed d little drama….keep writing

    1. Thanks Obi. I pray God keeps giving me the words :)

  12. Wow,I didn’t expect to enjoy reading this piece so much but you blew me off with the yam analogy.
    Nice work there

    1. Thanks Abbey316. I think I have my mom to thank for the yam analogy :)

  13. Nicely written. I have got something to pick up from it. This is really good.

    1. Thanks Joseph. Appreciate the compliment.

  14. Interesting read. I commend your writing style. Good mix of humour in between all the serious stuffs. Made my day.

  15. Thanks a lot!

  16. This was beautifully written. Serious stuff, but the humor helped &&& I like the yam analogy. You really handled the topic well, and while most people might write it in such a way that we would be spanking ourselves (sounds wrong, eh?) for having such inflated egos, you make it seem as something to be applauded…if only a little. So, in the same spirit which the article advocates, I go to toot my own horn (if only I can find it)

    1. Thanks Ayokunle for your kind comments. I guess the challenge for us writers is to keep that ego in check before we veer to the point of delusion about our abilities. If you can’t find the horn, a recorder will do just fine :)

  17. In our attempt to spread the word about our efforts, it may help to adopt cordinated methods and avenues to ensure maximum impact.

    1. Scopeman, I totally agree that maximum impact should definitely be the goal here. Publishing a book is both a creative and business process. We have to become good at both. Thanks for adding a vital point :)

  18. Really enjoyed this article. I love your vital illustration at the beginning showing we live in a much competitive world where we have to do some necessary effort in promoting ourselves and craft. For indeed one appreciative buyer of your book can do a whole lot in recommending it to a neighbour, and the neighbour to a friend, family member and so on. That works just fine for me and my book. Thanks!

  19. Dowell, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. The power of word of mouth promotion is amazing. I’ve read so many books just because someone recommended them to me and when I fall in love with the writing, I’m quick to tell other people. Connecting with book clubs is very helpful with this organic form of marketing. NS has one and there’re lots of other on-line ones too. I’m assuming from your post that you wrote a book. Congrats on that and I wish all the best :)

  20. I am only sad that I am not going to be the last one to laugh so I wouldn’t laugh loudest…ouch!
    This is short and witty! I had some crazy laugh – the picture with the intro is simply – simply – what’s that word again? Ehen…
    The sad part of giving speeches late is everyone seems to have said it all…Well, it can also be the best part of being in the
    parliament…Like my big bros and sis in the National Assembly would say: (to all the comments above): I SECOND. Yey!

  21. Copying this to my blog now…http://sueddie.wordpress.com – STOP me o!

  22. Good piece. It appears writing the book is just the beginning. The next stage is marketing, marketing and marketing. Well said and you have a beautiful way of saying it.

    1. Dulen, thanks for the kind comments. Marketing is definitely key. But if you want to stay in the game, you also have to to keep writing :)

  23. @yejide-kilanko, marketing may be necessary, but it is such an inexact science.

    Why do some videos/articles go viral, while some languish in the obscurity of the darkest recesses of the web? Nobody really knows, so everyone just tries everything from tweeting to facebooking to linking in to stumbling upon to digging to {insert name of favourite social media tool}.

    I would prefer to put some drug in the water supply that would compel people to buy my book/read my story/watch my videos. Much less messy. :)

    1. T.O, I too have wondered about the same thing and I’m yet to arrive an answer. But I figured that if you don’t put your stuff out there, you eliminate the possibility of a person with influence stumbling upon a link. And if things don’t pan out, it wouldn’t be because you failed to do your own part.

      About the water idea, em…in the event that I visit you folks one day, please don’t be offended if I bring along my keg of water ;)

  24. Lovely and witty article, I couldn’t help smiling especially at your use of the “yam” analogy to portray your point….very nice.

    I totally get where you are coming from, nowadays it is not just about writing for sheer pleasure, it is also looking for effective strategies (like printing your website’s name on your kid’s tee shirts…lmao) to get your message out there, like I always say “what is the use of the message if it cannot be heard and understood”.

    Great piece once again…I like :)

    1. Thanks @Tosyn. Glad that you enjoyed it. It has been quite an experience trying to market my debut novel these past 10 months. While I’m yet to print my website add on my kids’ tee shirts, I would admit there have been times I’m been tempted :) Networking with other writers does help with getting the word out.

  25. I laughed through this article! And that perfect teeth business… No be small thing o.

    1. You’ll be surprised how much that perfect teeth business matters :) Thanks for reading.

  26. the light tone is gripping, entertaining too

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